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Gerstein Science Information Centre

Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (MScQIPS)

This guide is intended to assist students in the MSc in IHPME (Quality Improvement and Patient Safety concentration) with their literature review and other research projects.

What are search filters?

Search filters are:

  • also known as hedges
  • pre-cooked search strings that are designed to limit search results
  • designed to be highly-sensitive, precise, or a balance of both

Commonly, search filters limit search results by:

  • age group
  • publication type
  • study design

They are sometimes available at the click of a button in library databases, but don't let that deceive you! A lot of work goes into developing an effective search strategy for filters, and they often include various combinations of subject headings, textwords, and wildcards.

NOTE: Use filters with caution! 
Many search filters are interface-specific and only available for certain databases.  Some filters have been validated; many have not. 


QI filters

Quality Improvement Filter for Medline

Search strategy OVID search*

      Best sensitivity
  •  All QI
        exp health services administration OR OR OR        
  • QI pass for methods OR OR OR        

Best optimisation of sensitivity and specificity

  • All QI
        random:.ti,ab. OR OR exp patient care management        
  •  QI pass for methods
        control: OR OR OR random:        

[Source: Table adapted from original in: Wilczynski NL, Haynes RB, Optimal search filters for detecting quality improvement studies in Medline]


Other sources of QI filters:

ISSG Search Filters Resource: Quality Improvement Filters